Supporting Jen to find a volunteering opportunity to suit her interests at Discover U

We supported Jen to find a volunteering opportunity to suit her interests at Discover U, a charity aiming to break down barriers into employment for adults with learning and physical disabilities.

My name is Jen and I started volunteering with Discover U in July 2017. A local charity now based in Wollaston that aim to break down barriers into employment for adults with learning and physical disabilities.
 
After being made redundant, when the centre I worked for closed, I decided to take a few months off to do some voluntary work, something I’d always wanted to find the time to do. My previous company had looked after its former employees and so I felt now would be the best time to do it.
 
I started making a few enquiries, contacted a few local charities who said they would pop an application form in the post but was struggling to find something I could really throw myself into. So I contacted the Dudley CVS office in Brierley Hill, to see if they could point me in the right direction. The team there were extremely helpful. They invited me in to meet with Eileen and discuss what was going on in the local area and so I could better understand the different types of work I could get involved with. We discussed my strengths and goals and we narrowed the search down to several options that all sounded like potentially great opportunities. Eileen told me about a relatively new charity called Discover U and explained the aims of the charity and the fantastic work they were doing in the local community. She provided me with all the contact information and encouragement I needed and I followed up on them that very same day.
 
After speaking to the manager of Discover U, Steve Smith, I was invited down to their site (which at the time was based in Brierley Hill) for a show around an informal chat. Here I found a friendly, busy environment where everyone had a smile on their face. It was easy to see the passion from Steve and the team and how hard they worked to keep the charity running. I couldn’t wait to get started. I began volunteering three days a week helping to work with Discover U’s members to learn and develop their skills, creating products for the home and garden from recycled materials that could be sold to the public. 
 
s I got to know everyone I saw the difference this charity was making to the members’ lives. Giving them social, emotional and workplace skills that would help them navigate the difficulties in the outside world. I saw a charity, with a minimal staff budget, working around the clock that needed the help and support of volunteers to keep the operation going. I fell in love with the place, and it’s mission, and just couldn’t leave.A
 
I decided to extend my time off work to help support the charity. After 12 months, a new location, the addition of a tea room, and a lot of hard work from everyone, Steve was able to take me on as a full time member of staff. Today, I am the General Manager of Discover U and part of a staff of 12 that is reaching out to more people within the community than ever.
 
The simple fact is, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help and guidance of Dudley CVS. They helped me find a local charity, that at the time was not in the public eye so did not get the attention it deserved through other channels. With it, I found a new purpose and a new path that I had never considered.
 
Volunteering gave me the opportunity and flexibility to try something new, make a lot of new friends and really make a difference to people in the community that, before this, I was not even aware were facing the daily struggles that they do.

 
Dudley CVS continue to support Discover U. The team stay in regular contact with us and often give their time and expertise. They have been helping us raise our profile and the team worked with our members to create two fantastic videos that you can see on YouTube and our website. Thanks to their help and generosity ourselves and another local charity, Woodside Crafts, were able to put on a fundraising concert at Brierley Hill Civic.
 
We even worked with DCVS to design and create the Dudley Volunteer Awards for 2018, the Mayor’s award and we are currently working on them for this year. This collaboration brought their vision and our mission together, creating awards for amazing volunteers, made by the very people they support.
 
The team stay in regular contact keeping us up to date on what is going on in the area and things we might be able to get involved in. The door was always open and continues to be, for any support myself and everyone at Discover U needs.
 
Eileen, and all at Dudley CVS. We can’t thank you enough.

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